Custom Orders

The Humbert: A beach twist on The Coloradan

Ever since I finished The Coloradan, there has been quite a bit of interest from people wanting me to create a custom version with their favorite Colorado destinations.  That’s how this particular dresser started its journey.  Right as I was about to start laying paint down on this beautiful mid-century modern, peg-leg chest from Basset, the client changed her mind!

Before

Before

Instead of a rustic, black, mountain themed dresser, she decided she wanted a beach-cottage feel for the room this was going in.  No problemo!  Having grown up near the beach in Florida, I was actually very excited to create a beach-cottage piece.  Beach inspired furniture isn’t exactly a big thing in my neck of the woods, ya hear?

So, and this might not be all that surprising, I had to dig out my quart of white chalk paint from under all of the saturated and bright colors.  It was quite the ordeal.  Considering how this piece turned out, perhaps I should keep that white more accessible!

The key to a successful beach-themed furniture renewal is white and whitewashed colors.  Has to have that sun-bleached feel to it, right?  Oh, and lots of distressing will help, too.  This piece has plenty of both:

After

After

Doesn’t it look fantastically beachy?  All that white, distressed grey, and the original wood peeking through just looks so beautiful together.  The locations are all beaches and towns that hold special meaning to the client (she was absolutely thrilled and floored by the final product).

To achieve this look, I first prepped the piece for paint.  I didn’t bother fixing the dents and gouges because they were perfect for adding character to the beach cottage theme.  I then painted the drawers a medium grey in preparation for the lettering.  Before I was ready to paint the entire piece with the bright white, I had to map out the locations.  After using lots of scrap paper, and the crazy visions in my head, I finally found a layout that made sense to me and would be the most visually pleasing.  Lay down the letters and pick the paint brush back up…I painted…ahem.. a few (pure white takes SO many coats of paint) coats of the white before I was finally happy with the look.

After the paint dried, I pulled the letters and then found my trusty sanding sponge.  Lots of elbow grease, hemming and hawing, and determination finally led to a perfectly shabby, beach-cottage feel.

The Humbert The Humbert The Humbert

Do you like it?

If you are interested in having me create one of these subway-poster inspired pieces for your home, please email me and we can design something that is perfect for you!

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Sweet Pickin’s

It’s been a while since I have revealed a new Renewal…other than refinishing this small coffee table, I haven’t had much time to paint furniture.  Not only has real estate been super busy, I have also been spending more time in the saddle of my road bike.  Due to various injuries and inclement weather, it’s been a looooong time since I have had any sort of regularity in my training.  I’m still only putting in around 100 miles per week, and trying to find time to paint, too.  With the onset of Monsoon season here in Denver, the available hours of daylight are limited…short of waking up at 5am to get my rides in, new Renewals are just going to be rolling out a little less frequently.

Another reason for the lack of new reveals is because I have been spending quite a bit of time picking!  Picking is a vital part of having a furniture painting/renewing business…and I love it just as much as I love showing off my latest, beautiful Renewal.  Being a good picker and finding great deals requires some effort…and there are plenty of do’s and don’ts, as well as other tips that I have learned along the way, that I will happily share with all of you in a future post 😉

For now, I’m just going to show off some of my recent finds so that we can all revel in the fantastic history of the items:

Antique Buffet The Apollonia

Starting with these two fantastic, antique buffets.  Later on in this post I’ll show you some progress pictures of the 2nd one.  The first one is currently residing in my own house and is likely going to stay there for quite a while.
Then, I found this beautiful french set with gorgeous veneer inlays from Joerns Bros Furniture company.  My educated guess is that these are from the early 30’s:

Joerns Tallboy Joerns Chest Joerns Headboard

I’m probably going to have the set appraised, and possibly sell it to an antique dealer…I’m not sure I could bring myself to paint those beautiful veneers!  Or, I’ll sell the headboard (I’m just not that into antique beds…even ones as beautiful as this) for more than I bought the entire set for and keep the other two as-is for my future master bedroom.  Clearly, I’m slightly attached to the dressers.  The chest-on-chest has a cedar drawer on the bottom and is just a stunning piece, and the 3-drawer gentleman’s chest comes with the original cuff-links sliding tray and the bottom drawer is sooooo deep.  It’s also the most massive chest of drawers I’ve ever come across; it measures in at almost four and a half feet long and two feet from front to back.  As you’ll see further down, the hoard, at this point, was bulging and overflowing from the garage and there was no way I could just re-stack and leave everything in there, so these two beauties are already moved indoors…the chest-on-chest is in my bedroom and the chest of drawers is serving as the sideboard in my kitchen.

Now, onto everything else.  All of the following is available for customization.  If you are interested in any of them, email me (contact information found at the top) and we can discuss everything.  More photos, as well as more available inventory can be found over on the facebook page, so be sure to check that out, too.

13 drawers!  Another stunning antique French Provincial chest-on-chest. Chicken wire is included :)

13 drawers! Another stunning antique French Provincial chest-on-chest. Chicken wire is included 🙂

Part of a mid-century, french provincial set.

Part of a mid-century, french provincial set.

The mid-century french provincial set.  Beautiful curves on both the chest-on-chest and the triple.  The triple has a gorgeous vanity mirror with rosette detailing.

The mid-century french provincial set. Beautiful curves on both the chest-on-chest and the triple. The triple has a gorgeous vanity mirror with rosette detailing.

Lovely ornate mirror.

Lovely ornate mirror.

Antique farmhouse oak dresser from the turn of the century.

Antique farmhouse oak dresser from the turn of the century.

Lovely scroll posts and cheval pins on the vanity mirror.

Lovely scroll posts and cheval pins on the vanity mirror.

1930's Secretary desk with serpentine front, 4 drawers, and eagle's claw feet.  Beautiful!

1930’s Secretary desk with serpentine front, 4 drawers, and eagle’s claw feet. Beautiful!

Solid maple, vintage buffet.  Available with or without hutch.

Solid maple, vintage buffet. Available with or without hutch.

Wonderful MCM bar cart

Wonderful MCM bar cart

Ice-box reproduction.  Originally a TV armoire. Will soon be a beautiful bar cabinet!

Ice-box reproduction. Originally a TV armoire. Will soon be a beautiful bar cabinet!

1940's telephone table with harp back.  Great condition!

1940’s telephone table with harp back. Great condition!

Great MCM peg leg chest.

Great MCM peg leg chest.

As you can see…I’ve been a very, very busy picker lately!  The downside, if there is one, to all this productive picking is that the Hoard, which was already consuming more than half of my garage and workspace, was swelling and overflowing!  I could barely close the garage door!  What’s not so funny, is that all this picking occurred in two waves and the Hoard outgrew it’s quarters not just once, but twice!  Within the span of one week I had to pull it all out and re-stack it TWICE!

Re-Stack 1Re-Stack #1 was a complete overhaul.  I have a few custom orders coming up for pieces that were all the way in the back…so on the Sunday after the Fourth, I enlisted the help of a few friends, pulled EVERYTHING out, and then spent another hour or two playing Tetris with massive pieces of furniture.  At the end of the day, I had a beautifully stacked Hoard and lots of space to work in, as you can see.

And then came one of the most unexpected and best picking weeks of my life…which led to Re-Stack #2:

Re-Stack 2

In the span of 5 days, I had the wonderful fortune of adding 7 new dressers and a beautiful antique telephone table to my Hoard.  It was all very spontaneous…and I actually felt a little guilty while running around town picking everything up…I simply had NO room for it all.  In fact, I turned down some great pieces, too, because I knew there was just no way I’d find room for them (and while they were good deals, they weren’t smokin’ hot deals like everything else I bought).  After it was all said and done, I convinced the boyfriend to help me out for an hour (he’s not a big fan of manual labor) and we were able to stack a few things higher and higher, move the gorgeous dresser set into my apartment, and make enough space for me to be able to work…on one piece at a time…

And so, finally, after an amazing couple weeks of sweet pickin’…I’ve been able to make some lovely progress on The Apollonia, one of the antique buffets.  I’ll leave you with some progress shots…a full reveal should be up by the end of the weekend or early next week!

The Apollonia The Apollonia

The Ripley, Revealed! And a simple brass polishing tutorial.

I have been dying to get this baby set up and photographed.  It has been done for a week; I just didn’t have the time or the proper weather/lighting conditions to photograph it.

If you are here for the brass polishing tutorial, it’s at the bottom!

This lovely dresser was a custom order for someone who bought our mint green coffee table, The Greenwich, a while back.  They wanted a bold and rich color, but didn’t know what would look best in their living room by the coffee table.  They were really drawn to the emerald color that I used on The Eire and were hoping that would work.  They were a bit sad when I explained to them that the emerald would clash with the mint green, but they cheered up when I started showing them some inspiration photos of navy/royal blue pieces of furniture.

I have always wanted to work with a rich and bold blue.  For some reason, though, I’ve been scared of it because I wasn’t sure of the marketability for it.  No more!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this color.  And I’m tempted to overhaul my living room in order to make a similar piece to use as my entertainment center.

And now let’s get to what you are really here for, the dresser!  Here is what she looked like before…lots of medium brown stain, severely tarnished, solid brass hardware, and water marks and other damage to the surfaces:

Before it was just a mid-century dresser that had water marks on the top and had seen better days

Before it was just a mid-century dresser that had water marks on the top and had seen better days

Annnnnnd here is what the dresser looks like now!

This is the most accurate picture as far as showing the color.  The color changes in different lighting

This is the most accurate picture as far as showing the color. The color changes in different lighting

What do you think?  I think it is absolutely beautiful!

I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Napoleonic blue, mixed with a bit of black in order to make it slightly deeper.  This was my first time using ASCP and while I do love the way this dresser turned out, I have mixed feelings regarding the paint.  To start with, it is VERY thick.  Much thicker than the latex paint I am used to working with.  The benefit to this is that it covers extremely well and, true to their marketing, no sanding is required.  In retrospect, I will still lightly sand any future piece I use ASCP on because, while it does stick, it comes off way too easily when distressing and that makes me nervous regarding its longevity and durability.

Another aspect of using the ASCP that bothered me is that it changes color drastically when sanding between coats and distressing.  It is my understanding that waxing prior to distressing helps minimize the color change, but waxing first is not an option when sanding between coats (this is a step I always do because I prefer my finishes to be smoooooooth, like it is baked on enamel.  I understand that many ASCP lovers LIKE the brush marks and texture that hand-painting creates.  To each their own.)

But enough about the paint…I’ll be writing a post comparing different types of paint someday soon and will go into far more detail on my ASCP experiences.

Here are the rest of the beautiful pictures…

The walnut stain and royal blue play so well together

The walnut stain and royal blue play so well together

The Ripley

Lovely details and lines

Lovely details and lines

Deep royal blue, dark wax, medium walnut stain, and original brass hardware

Deep royal blue, dark wax, medium walnut stain, and original brass hardware

I loved the oak veneer top and knew I was going to stain it.  Normally, I would immediately reach for my can of Jacobean Minwax stain.  I love the rich, dark tones of the Jacobean and I’m sure this dresser would have looked great with it.  But, I wanted something a little lighter, in order to bring out the brighter tones of the deep blue.  So, I used Special Walnut instead.  It’s a great medium brown that allows the oak grain to shine through and it complements this blue wonderfully!  Here’s a closer look at the oak grain…

Beautiful oak top

Beautiful oak top

Now, as most people already know, Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint is very chalky/velvety once it is dry.  It is also very absorbent and can easily get marked up.  Because of that, it is imperative to seal this paint with a top coat.  Top coat options are plentiful and it really boils down to preference.  For high traffic areas, like the top of this dresser or children’s furniture, etc, I like to use polyurethane.  It is nearly indestructible and does not need to be re-applied every 6 months to a year like waxes do.  For areas that see less action, I think it’s hard to beat the beauty and lustre of a hand-buffed furniture wax.

For this dresser, I applied two coats of Annie Sloan’s clear soft wax.  For most pieces, this is where I would stop.  This dresser, especially with all that beautiful and ornate detailing, needed something more so that the details popped!  So, I used Annie Sloan’s dark soft wax and started applying it with gusto.  Now, I know a lot of people are scared of dark wax, probably because many people like to paint with lighter, softer colors and dark wax can drastically alter those.  I am not scared of the dark wax, though.  In fact, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to thickly coat this dresser with dark wax because I love the depth and dimension it adds to bold colors.  See…

The dark wax looks beautiful on the side

The dark wax looks beautiful on the side

It also serves to make detailing stand out more, like this…

Love how the antiquing dark wax makes the details stand out!

Love how the antiquing dark wax makes the details stand out!

After polishing most of the tarnish off, the original brass hardware is stunning

After polishing most of the tarnish off, the original brass hardware is stunning

I love it.  I actually find it easier to use than many of the glazes that are available and designed to achieve this same effect.

This particular client is a very playful person, and though I discussed the details of this Renewal with them throughout the entire process, I did keep one thing a surprise.  On the hidden drawers, I thought it would be fun to do reverse stenciled numbering and ombre/gradient changing stain treatment.  Do you like?  The client did 🙂

Fun ombre stained hidden drawers in the middle

Fun ombre stained hidden drawers in the middle

What do you think of this hardware?

Stunning hardware on the door

Stunning hardware on the door

Is that not amazing?  Because this wasn’t a high-end piece of furniture, I fully expected the hardware to be plastic, or at the most, brass-plated.  I was thinking it was going to get the rub n’ buff treatment or the spray can treatment.  But then I used my trusty magnet skills (solid brass is not magnetic) and learned that this hardware was, in fact, solid brass.  Yipppeeeee!

If you’ve ever polished extremely tarnished brass, you know that it is messy and time-consuming.  This hardware was no exception.  But because of the end result, the process and labor is totally worth it.  Here is a photo of a side-by-side comparison of the hardware before and after polishing:

Hardware before and after side by side

Hardware before and after side by side

So, how do you get from the before to the after, you ask?  It’s simple, just not necessarily easy.

To start with, you’ll need:

-an old toothbrush

-grade #000 steel wool (it says metal polishing on the package)

-lemons

-coarse salt

-a small bowl and spoon to mix lemon juice and salt

-a towel to work on and a damp rag to wipe the hardware down afterwards

-lots of elbow grease 🙂

Depending on the level of tarnish, you may not need the salt.  I generally start by just using lemon juice and a tooth brush.  By starting here, you may be able to save yourself quite the mess!

Find a well-lit space and lay down a towel to work on.Then squeeze a lemon into a small bowl, dip your toothbrush, and start scrubbing the hardware.  If the tarnish comes off pretty easily, you can just continue using the toothbrush, remembering to frequently dip it into the lemon juice.  The acidity in the lemon juice is the active agent that helps remove the tarnish.

If your hardware is severely tarnished, like this hardware was, you will have to get messy because it won’t come off very easily.  It will save you time to do the following:

Take the small bowl of lemon juice and add 1-2 tablespoons of the salt.  Mix it together with the spoon to create a paste.  Now, use the toothbrush to spread some paste on the hardware.  Next, grab your #000 steel wool and your elbow grease and start polishing!
Make sure to keep the hardware ‘wet’ with lemon juice/paste.  It will cut down on the amount of elbow grease you need, as well as prevent over-polishing of the hardware.  Now, because salt has dehydrating power, your paste will dry out over time.  Just grab another lemon and squeeze some more juice into the paste.

When you have polished the brass to the level of shine that you prefer, take the damp rag and make sure (damn sure!) to remove all of the lemon juice and paste mix from the surface.

Now repeat the process for the other 8 pieces of hardware 😉

See, I told you it was simple.

Thanks for reading this far and feel free to tell me what you think by leaving a comment!

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Changes, changes, changes (like the weather)…and a REVEAL!

It is springtime.  Trees are sprouting new leaves, flowers are blooming, weeds are overrunning my yard, weeds are growing in my sidewalks and driveway, weeds are everywhere!  But enough about the weeds; my point is, everything is changing…including the RPhD blog.  That’s right…so many changes heading our way.

To start with, I’ve been contemplating whether or not to extend this blog into an all-around nesting/home decor/DIY blog.  Owning a historic mansion that has been converted into an apartment building means that I have a never-ending list of home improvement projects.  I generally do all of the work on my own.

Many projects start out, I reckon, the same way everyone’s do, with a lot of trepidation.  I am always afraid that I’m going to uncover a monster of a clusterfreak or open a can of something I’m totally ill-equipped for.  But after countless days of talking myself into it, gathering all the supplies I will need (because driving to Home Depot fifteen thousand times a day is NOT fun), and researching the possible hiccups I will face along the way, I put on my work clothes and I set to work.  Then, after many headaches and google searches, I eventually finish the project, admire my work, and feel inspired to tackle the next big project.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

With every project I complete, I learn something new.  And one of the things I have learned is that there are a lot of DIY tutorials out in the blogosphere.  I have also learned that many of those tutorials proved worthless to me.  With that in mind, I have decided to bring my DIY skills, my passion for home improvement, my long lost love of writing, and my warped mind together in order to bring tutorials to my faithful readers and to the googlesphere. My hope is that these tutorials would prove useful to other people that think and operate like myself and, consequently, find many of the available DIY tutorials to be less than helpful.  Or they can just skim right past those particular posts and move on to the pretty pictures of furniture I post!

Like these pictures of The Vanderpump!

The Vanderpump is headed to the home of a very special client whom happens to love pink.  They saw a hot pink desk with heavy black glazing in another shop, snapped a picture, and came to me to see if I could replicate the look on this wonderful, little, roll-top desk.

Roll-tops are not the easiest pieces of furniture to Renew and breathe new life into…but they sure do make a statement and make it totally worthwhile!  I just love this desk.  Love it.  Now I want to find another one and make space in my apartment, which is already overflowing with more furniture than anyone could possibly need.  Oh well, maybe one day…like when I win the powerball and can move into a 20,000 sq foot house.

So, because we will be diversifying our posts here on the blog and expanding our content coverage, we will also be doing some re-branding.  We’re still trying to figure out exactly what that will look like, with a new name and all, and whether we want to keep the RPhD name under a larger umbrella, or just do away with it altogether.  Right now, we are leaning towards keeping the furniture business under the RPhD name and incorporating it into our DIY/nesting blog.

Stay tuned!

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